Sally Alexander, Manging Director, Amberglow

“Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around.” - Milton Friedman

Future of education technologies

Adversity inspires innovation. And this was very much the case during the pandemic. But it’s perhaps a myth to say that lockdown inspired a technological awakening in schools.

The technology was already there. The pandemic merely accelerated the process of extending provision. 

And, while remote learning tools grabbed the headlines in 2020, we predict that other tech will come to the fore as schools and pupils gradually return – we hope – to relative normality. 

Facilitating teamwork

Group work has always been important in lessons, and tech oils the wheels for peer-to-peer learning, seamless collaboration, and what some teachers call “collectively worked examples”. 

Take revision notes, for example. Previously, collating pupils’ contributions on paper proved problematic and time-consuming, and, very often, the juice was not worth the squeeze.

Now there’s Microsoft OneNote and its Class Notebook, Google Slides and Google Docs, as well as Sway, Jamboard, and Padlet. The teacher can monitor teamwork from a distance and contribute as when and necessary. 

To enhance learning further, pupils can then work through test papers or essays together, and then peer assess each other’s work.

The analytics on the likes of Microsoft Sway means that teachers can analyse pupils’ engagement, easily and in some depth. “Track Changes” on shared docs allows teachers to evaluate the evolution of a piece of work.

What’s more, their comments aren’t lost amidst the flurry of collaborators’ comments. They can be collated, disseminated, and then acted on by the pupils.

Reducing the marking burden

Tech can take some of the strain out of assessment. Uploaded work can be batch-marked.

Teachers can easily and quickly dictate oral feedback with OneNote or Mote, for example, with stored comments and supplementary resources and links for pupils, parents, and colleagues.  Language teachers find voice notes especially useful for correcting pronunciation. 

And with AI’s ever greater sophistication, online learning platforms and apps are able to set, mark and tailor future work to suit pupils’ ability levels. Many Maths teachers swear by self-marking interactive tutorials courtesy of the Centre for Innovation in Mathematics Teaching (CIMT). 

Gamifying of learning

Kids love quizzes. And classrooms without Kahoot!, Memrise, Quizziz, Quizlet, Seneca, and suchlike now seem unimaginable. 

What we are seeing is the gradual gamification of education, where apps inspire users through collaboration, competition, and interactivity. 

The use of timers and class polls in lessons concentrates the minds of young learners. Drag and drop games on interactive whiteboards or iPads are a great fun, whether it’s labelling parts of the body or identifying poetry devices.

More and more studies on the neuroscience of learning and memorisation show the efficacy of retrieval practice and spaced repetition. 

Bringing the outside world into the classroom

Pupils learn best when all their senses are engaged. We all process the concrete more easily than the abstract. Dry equations or explanations can’t compete with seeing the real thing.

Once a teacher has explained tectonics plates, showing the class an earthquake rocks their world. There’s a dizzying array of online resources out there bringing learning to life, and the outside world into classrooms. 

Beyond YouTube, there’s Khan Academy, ClickView, AppleClips, BrainPop, and Planet eStream, along with BBC, Teachit, Tes, Oak National Academy, Kerboodle, ActiveLearn, and Dynamic Learning.

And teachers are putting more and more of their own content online, for pupils to enjoy at leisure, in their time and, most importantly, at their own pace. 

Furthermore, teachers and pupils can share online textbooks with Classoos. Parentkind has a helpful list of free online resources. 

And let’s not forget the move towards flipping the classroom, where pupils learn new concepts at home, so that they can later apply them in class, where the teacher can help them. 

Final thoughts 

EdTech can’t solve everything, but it is undoubtedly making the day-to-day lives of teachers so much easier, while inspiring the next generation of learners. There is much to be excited about, with innovation and new ideas a seemingly daily occurrence. 

The market is buoyant. As Global EdTech reports, “Estimates vary considerably for the future direction of the Global EdTech market.

Holon IQ predicts that it could reach $404 billion by 2025.  In comparison, Grand View Research suggests that the market could reach $285.2 billion by 2027.”

Some anticipate obstacles ahead, with upskilling required and a digital divide remaining, but much is being done to meet these challenges. The EdTech Demonstrator programme, set up by the Department of Education, is helping schools to work together to share expertise and best practice.

Speaking in the midst of the pandemic, UK Digital Minister Caroline Dinenage said,

“The UK’s world-leading EdTech sector has used its expertise to develop practical solutions and online learning tools for schools, parents and pupils during this challenging time.

The work it is doing right now will pave the way for new technology to help shape the future of education in the UK and around the world.”

It’s a profession that’s increasingly at ease with technology, one that is getting younger and younger. The average age is 39 years of age. It won’t be long before digital natives are entering the classroom. 

Sally Alexander, Manging Director, Amberglow

Sally has worked within the education marketing industry since 2007, all of which with Ambleglow. She has risen through the ranks, starting as an Account Executive and now serving as the Managing Director, this has given her an insight into all aspects of the business. 

With in-depth knowledge of all things school marketing and recruitment, Sally is able to offer excellent knowledge and advice to all of her clients, as well as those who pop her the odd question on LinkedIn. On top of that, Sally’s also a Co-Opted Governor for a local primary school, giving her a unique understanding of the challenges faced within education.

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